Things to do nearby Little Gem
Ideally located for exploring the western fells and Cumbrian coastline, Little Gem is just as its name implies. A short drive to the bustling small town of Cockermouth is perfect for picking up supplies or enjoying a coffee stop in one of the many little cafes dotted around its cobbled square. The Georgian harbour town of Maryport has a maritime museum, aquarium and Roman museum all worthy of a visit, and further up the coastline, the Solway Estuary offers plenty of opportunities for bird watching, as well as some incredible sunsets.
Maryport has seen many uses over its life: from a small fishing village to a Roman port, to a coal port, it has interesting heritage. You can learn more about the history of the area at two museums in the town: Maryport Maritime Museum and the Senhouse Roman Museum. There is also a Roman fort to explore and a popular Blues Festival every year.
Maryport also boasts a popular Aquarium on the harbour, a variety of shops, Go Karting, a climbing wall, and a coastal golf course. There is a train station in the centre of town and from here you can set off up the coast to the historical Border City of Carlisle or south to Barrow along a route that hugs the coast for much of the length of the county.
Walking and cycling is also an option from the town, with routes along the seafront. Head north and you will find yourself in the stunning Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with its long, sandy beaches, views across to Scotland, pretty seaside villages, and nature reserves. Stop off at Allonby for fish and chips and ice cream, explore the cobbled streets and seafront arcade in Silloth, or enjoy a bit of birdwatching.
Following the coast south, you will also find plenty of attractions. The old industrial town of Workington is just 10 minutes away and is now the shopping hub of West Cumbria. With a pedestrianised high street, a variety of shops, two museums and two theatres, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Workington also has a busy nightlife scene with plenty of pubs and bars. For something quieter, why not head to Hall Park where you will find ruined and mysterious Curwen Hall. Follow the path through the leafy park and down to the river where you might see salmon jumping or herons flying high above. Look out for the remains of Cuckoo Arch en-route: the ghost of a World War 2 soldier is said to wait there for his fiancé!
Whitehaven is a Georgian town that was once an important port. It has a pretty harbour with shops and the occasional tall ship! Why not head to The Beacon, a lighthouse-style museum that has regular interactive exhibitions and lots of interesting information about the history and heritage of the area. For something more piratical, head to The Rum Story and learn about the history of rum and piracy in the area.
St. Bees, the most western point of Cumbria, is a small seaside village with a lovely, mile-long beach. It is the start of Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk and the first stretch over its sandstone cliffs is worth a visit, even if you don’t plan to complete the full route! The RSPB nature reserve, home to England’s only colony of Black Guillemots, is a must-see for bird lovers. You can spot other birdlife such as puffins, too, if you’re lucky. If you’re looking to get the adrenaline pumping, this part of the coast is also good for rock climbing, bouldering, and paragliding.
You can be in the Lake District from Maryport in just 20 minutes. The gateway town of Cockermouth is worth a stop off on your way, with its wealth of independent shops, an auction house, and pretty riverside walks. Literary fans will love visiting William Wordsworth’s childhood home in the town, made to look as it would have in 1770. Another stop off is the Jennings Brewery, which offers tours and tastings.
The first lake you reach when you enter the National Park from Maryport is Bassenthwaite Lake, the Lake District’s only “real” lake! You may decide to go no further as there’s so much to do around this peaceful area. Animal lovers will love the Lake District Wildlife Park. Wander around learning about an array of critters including red panda, otters, wildebeest and zebra. You may even want to try out being a zookeeper for the day! The park also has fantastic bird displays, reptile encounters, a café, and a soft play area.
Next door to the Wildlife Park is the Lakes Distillery with tours, tastings, a bistro, gift shop, and even a family of alpacas!
Dodd Wood and Whinlatter Forest rise from the lake. Both have wonderful forest trails and viewing points to watch the magnificent Ospreys as they nest and fish in Bassenthwaite Lake. Dodd also has a wonderful tearoom called The Old Sawmill whilst Whinlatter has a Go Ape! high ropes course, Segway tours, and mountain bike trails.
The walking and cycling in this area is also fantastic. Apart from the mountain bike routes in Whinlatter Forest, keen road cyclists can take on the challenge of the Whinlatter and Honister passes. Skiddaw, England's fourth highest mountain can be hiked from Bassenthwaite via Ullock Pike. On a clear day, Skiddaw presents epic views to the coast, Scotland and southwards towards the central Lake District.
Keswick is famed for its stunning mountain scenery, beautiful Derwentwater, and the friendly pedestrianised town centre with a mix of independent and outdoor shops. There is also a lakeside theatre, vintage cinema, cafés, pubs and restaurants. You can hire boats to row yourself on the water or take the Launch to several stops around the lake. Why not look up one of the many activity providers and try ghyll scrambling, paddling boarding, or one of the many other outdoor activities?